Sunday, August 21, 2005

Items from this morning's New York Times

Concerns are being voiced by some oil experts that Saudi Arabia and other producers may, in the near future, be unable to meet rising world demand. The producers are not running out of oil, not yet, but their decades-old reservoirs are not as full and geologically spry as they used to be, and they may be incapable of producing, on a daily basis, the increasing volumes of oil that the world requires. ''One thing is clear,'' warns Chevron, the second-largest American oil company, in a series of new advertisements, ''the era of easy oil is over.''
In the past several years, the gap between demand and supply, once considerable, has steadily narrowed, and today is almost negligible. The consequences of an actual shortfall of supply would be immense. If consumption begins to exceed production by even a small amount, the price of a barrel of oil could soar to triple-digit levels. This, in turn, could bring on a global recession, a result of exorbitant prices for transport fuels and for products that rely on petrochemicals -- which is to say, almost every product on the market. The impact on the American way of life would be profound: cars cannot be propelled by roof-borne windmills. The suburban and exurban lifestyles, hinged to two-car families and constant trips to work, school and Wal-Mart, might become unaffordable or, if gas rationing is imposed, impossible. Carpools would be the least imposing of many inconveniences; the cost of home heating would soar -- assuming, of course, that climate-controlled habitats do not become just a fond memory.

The above is from "The Breaking Point" by Peter Maass which appears in the Sunday Magazine of today's New York Times. As Ty, who selected the article and chose the excerpt notes, peak oil theory is getting harder and harder to deny. (Though we're sure that somehow a non-intelligent design scheme will come along to do so forcefully if not belieavably.)

Jess notes the Associated Press article entitled "Bush Begins 5-Day Push to Defend Iraq War"
and how an unnamded AP writer trumps the Washington Post's Mike Allen by offering perspective and not just taking dicatation:

The protesters at ''Camp Casey'' can claim some victory for forcing Bush to talk so extensively about the military deaths when he'd rather focus on indictors of progress in Iraq. The campers' call to bring the troops home now dominated news coverage out of Crawford this week while Bush stayed on his ranch with no public events.
Next week, the president will regain some of the spotlight with scheduled speeches to the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Monday and a National Guard group on Wednesday.
As he has before when he has been challenged, Bush invoked the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in his radio address.

[. . .]
In the Democratic address, [Max] Cleland also brought up the Sept. 11 attacks -- to remind Americans that al-Qaida terror group leader Osama bin Laden has yet to be captured.

Elaine notes Jodi Wilgoren's "Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive" and applauds the run down Wilgoren provides. See if you can pick out why in this excerpt:

As much philosophical worldview as scientific hypothesis, intelligent design challenges Darwin's theory of natural selection by arguing that some organisms are too complex to be explained by evolution alone, pointing to the possibility of supernatural influences. While mutual acceptance of evolution and the existence of God appeals instinctively to a faithful public, intelligent design is shunned as heresy in mainstream universities and science societies as untestable in laboratories.

Elaine: Too many reporters wrongly apply the term "theory" to intelligent design. It's not a scientific theory. It may well be a philosophical one but it's not a scientific theory. Hypothesis is the correct term for it. To be a scientific theory, it has to be testable and the results have to demonstrate a strong likelihood backed up by strong evidence. The conventional definition of "theory" is too often used in reports on science. "Hypothesis" is the scientific term for "theory" as used in your average conversation. If I say, "My theory for why you wake up in the middle of the night hungry is . . ." Unless what I'm offering can be tested and demonstrate a strong likelihood of causing the effect, in scientific terms, I didn't offer a "theory," I offered a "hypothesis." Besides noting the history of the organization behind the push for intelligent design, Wilgoren actually appears to know something of the scientific field and I'll give her credit for that. It's a strong article.

Kat notes the first item in Kelefa Sanneh's musical roundup entitled "A Protest Song Does Double Duty as a Love Note to Soldiers in Iraq:"

The news release bore the defensive headline "Green Day Are Not Anti-American, They Are Anti-War," which could only mean one thing: a mildly controversial new music video. The director is Samuel Bayer (of "Smells Like Teen Spirit" fame) and the song is "Wake Me Up When September Ends," a power ballad from the band's great and greatly popular 2004 album "American Idiot" (Reprise). (It can be seen at Somehow, Mr. Bayer has made a seven-minute video that's even more melodramatic than the song: the actors Jamie Bell and Evan Rachel Wood interrupt the music to express their bliss (to be young and in love!) and, a few minutes later, anxiety (to be young and enlisted!); soon she's home worrying, and he's away warring. Like most wars, the Iraq war has simultaneously deepened political divisions and scrambled them. And so though the band members and director may mean this video as a strong antiwar statement, it also works pretty well as a support-our-troops statement for the emo age. On shows like MTV's "Total Request Live," many of the people requesting it aren't trying to send a message to the government; they're trying to send a message to boyfriends and girlfriends overseas.Video available from the Green Day Web site.

Kat: If KS' thinks "Wake Me Up When September Ends" is melodramatic, she's really not heard a great deal of Green Day. Maybe she just knows "Time of Your Life" and "When I Come Around"? Regardless, it's past time for the paper to revamp their style manual. What's the name of the album? It's in quotes. How do you tell a song? It's in quotes. Confusing? Yes. Because the Times has refused to sort this out. LP, the term for vinyl record albums, stood for "long playing" which indicated that it wasn't a single. Somewhere around the time that Sinatra began turning albums into actual art and not just collections of songs, the paper should have figured out a way to alert the reader quickly to what was a song or single and what was the title of an album. Lastly, "the emo age" refers to a genre of music, emo, no matter how KS utilizes it. Here she's using it for shorthand. Green Day does not make emo music. Thursday, Dashboard Confessional and others make emo music. KS' analogy is false. Someone should have caught it before it was printed. Punk may "melodramatic" as KS feels this song is, but it is not "emo."

And those are the articles we feel are worth highlighting. Thanks to Dona, Jim, Ty, Jess and Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner and Elaine subbing for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude for helping me wade through this morning's paper. There's an article on the bankrupty changes in October but no one was impressed with it and, in Jim's words, a lot of space wasted to say very little.

Jim: Sometimes examples are illustrative. Sometimes they just fill space. The latter is the case with that article.

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